Yet another slap in the face for eco-Gozo – Readers Letter
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I have just been made aware of the latest idea to come from the Gozo Ministry regarding the eco-Gozo concept. Apparently it has been decided that there are too many trees on Gozo so they are going to remove a few. Unfortunately for all the people who enjoy the Pjazza Independenza or It-Tokk area, those are the trees they have decided to get rid of. So what’s behind this decision? Well the official version is that the birds are messing on people’s cars. It’s a disgrace that this younger generation of birds has no respect whatsoever for people’s property. The unofficial version is that the Minister for Gozo is doing favours yet again by increasing the space available for market stalls and bar/cafe tables.
Now there are several problems regarding these trees the main one being that they are protected by their age and apparently the decision has been made to cut them down rather than transplant them elsewhere. I would say the reason for that is because if they tried to uproot them in order to transplant them it would entail digging around the area of the tree to a diameter 7 times the diameter of the tree trunk. That would basically destroy the entire site and if it took as long to put it back in order as it’s taking them to do St. George’s square the café’s and market traders would all be out of business.
This comes on the back of the approved re-development of the Victoria Bus Terminus which will see 24 ficus trees being transplanted on the site. Will these actually be transplanted or simply uprooted and dumped? Your guess is as good as mine but I’d probably opt for the latter myself. And what about all the trees removed on the road to San Lawrenz, Xaghra and Ta’ Pinu? Then there was the case of the ficus trees, which were destroyed on May 21st this year outside St. John’s Cathedral facing the Law Courts.
All these trees are protected by Trees and Woodlands Protection Regulations (LN12 of 2001), which requires pruning only to take place under permit by MEPA or the Department of Agriculture, which was not the case at St. John’s. Were any steps taken against them? I’m sure not. So are MEPA going to approve this cutting down rather than pruning at It-Tokk and destroy yet another roosting site used by thousands of protected White Wagtails in the winter? Perhaps the idea is to prevent the birds from roosting at all so that the hunters have a few more targets to blast from the sky.
These trees have provided shade to people for many years. They are an important roosting site for wintering birds. Locals and tourists alike enjoy them. Every year I come to Gozo I always make my way back to the square around 5.30pm to listen to the birds settling down for the night. Just try and imagine the square without its trees. Yet another slap in the face for Eco-Gozo.
James A. Tyrrell